Rhetoric, Evidence and Policymaking: a Case Study of Priority Setting in Primary Care
© The British Academy, 2011. All rights reserved. This chapter describes a study undertaken as part of the UCL Evidence programme to explore how policymakers talk about and reason with evidence. Specifically, researchers were interested in the micro-processes of deliberation and meaning-making practices of a group of people charged with prioritising health care in an NHS Primary Care Trust in the UK. The chapter describes how the research study brought together ideas from rhetorical theory and methods of discourse analysis to develop an innovative approach to exploring how evidence is constituted at the micro-level of social interaction and communication. It presents empirical data to illuminate the representation and meaning of evidence within one particular policymaking forum, and to highlight contrasting constructions of the policymaking process.